I have a confession to make: Our dog sleeps in our bed. He didn’t always, but when we moved to a new apartment in 2016, we got rid of his grungy dog bed, and we never replaced it. He started sleeping at the foot of our bed instead.
Apparently, we’re not the only ones who co-sleep with our dog. According to a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club (AKC), 45 percent of pup parents cuddle up with their furry friends at night.
“There’s this long-standing myth that letting dogs on your bed or couch is going to lead them to form inappropriate attachments and cause separation anxiety or aggression,” says Leanne Lilly, DVM, behavioral medicine resident at the Ohio State University in Columbus. “But we know that’s not the case. Most people sleep through the night undisturbed.”
In fact, a study published in September 2017 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings concluded just that: Results showed that inviting your dog to sleep in your bed at night does not negatively impact your sleep.
While there may be a stigma attached to sharing your bed with your dog, in reality, it’s not all bad.
According to the AKC, there are plenty of pros for both you and your pup, such as:
“Many people who have their dog sleep in bed with them at night find it gives them the same sense of compassion, comfort, and comradery as sharing a bed with a human being,” adds Dr. Lilly.
However, before you invite your dog to your bed, be sure to weigh the pros with the cons, as some negative aspects include:
And you still may want to consider whether or not your pup has behavioral issues like aggression or separation anxiety. However, the role of co-sleeping it’s not so cut-and-dry. It’s unknown if co-sleeping contributes to development of behavioral issues, or if they develop later, as the result of bed-sharing, explains the AKC.
Regardless, findings from a study published in September 2017 in Human Nature show that the benefits of co-sleeping with your dog often outweigh the risks.
If you decide to share your bed with your pet, there are a few things to consider.
The AKC suggests enforcing an “invitation only” approach, so that you are in charge of when your dog joins you to sleep.
And location is key. “Have your dog sleep where, if you get up in the middle of the night, you won’t step on or kick them,” says Lilly.
You may also consider limiting it to one dog at a time. An earlier study conducted by the Mayo Clinic study suggests that inviting two or more pets into your bed could potentially affect your sleep quality.
“At the end of the day, it’s about where everybody’s comfortable,” Lilly adds. “If you know your dog isn’t getting good sleep while bed-sharing, you may want to consider alternate arrangements.”